National Wildlife Federation Holds Second Green Careers Roundtable to Inform Students, Faculty, and Alumni from HBCU and Minority Serving Institutions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Environmental Justice Climate, Community, and Revitalization Program, in partnership with Re:wild and Planet Women, built upon its Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Green Careers Professional Development Roundtable to connect with students, faculty, and alumni from other Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) about opportunities in the environmental and conservation sector. Individuals from Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions and more engaged in an innovative speed dating Q&A designed to provide energetic and concise tips for students to apply in their green careers. 

According to the Green 2.0 Report, people of color make up 36 percent of the U.S. population yet the diversity composition of environmental non-profits, government agencies, and foundations have not broken the 16 percent green ceiling. In addition to professional development, panelists discussed the realities of working in a predominantly white space and provided advice on how to navigate a field that requires more representation and engagement from impacted communities.

“Report after report has proven that people of color support environmental protection at a higher rate than white people and as a movement, we haven’t done the best job at both recruiting and retaining talent of color,” said Mustafa Santiago Ali, vice president of environmental justice, climate, and community revitalization, “To win on the climate crisis, we must engage and center the voices of people that have been disproportionately impacted by environmental degradation, including Black, Indigenous, Latine, Asian, Pacific Islander, and communities of lower wealth.”   

"Young people won't pursue green careers if those jobs look stuck in the past. We must come together, hold space and listen to the voices of reason and wisdom about what is possible. NWF is leading the way and shining light on new pathways so that diverse leaders of tomorrow see themselves in a better future now," said Nina Paige Hadley, senior director of Re:wild.

“We recognize that job loss and recovery is often unequally distributed, affecting individuals with lower levels of education and African-American and Latine populations with greater severity,” said Simone Lightfoot, associate vice president of environmental justice and climate justice at the National Wildlife Federation,” The need for access, exposure, and recruitment is critical to ensure specific community demographic groups have unique and specific needs met. Our goal with the roundtable was to center race, culture, and legacy at the intersection of green career planning and professional networking opportunities.”

Roundtable panel participants included:

  • Antonio Cosme, Detroit education coordinator, National Wildlife Federation
  • Corina Newsome, associate conservation scientist, National Wildlife Federation
  • Crystal Jennings, director of youth leadership programs, National Wildlife Federation
  • Darryl Haddock, education director, West Atlanta Watershed Alliance
  • Debra Davies, student, Texas Southern University
  • Gabriel García, artist, Los Angeles, California
  • Representative De’Keither Stamps, Mississippi
  • Keith Ward, director of technology solutions, National Wildlife Federation
  • Koa Kaulukukui-Barbee, assistant attorney general, State of Washington Office of the Attorney General
  • Lindsey Bacigal, communications coordinator, Healing our Water—Great Lakes Coalition
  • Makeda Okolo, director of legislative and intergovernmental affairs, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
  • Miguel Ordeñana, senior manager of community science, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
  • Oday Salim, staff attorney, National Wildlife Federation
  • Rebeca Villegas, senior environmental justice program manager, National Wildlife Federation
  • Warren Dickson, California artist and CFO, 3rd Rock Hip Hop

To learn more about environmental justice efforts at the National Wildlife Federation, visit 



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